The State Report: Underrated
It should be to no surprise that a good number of NCAA College Football analysts and writers have come to the realization that Michigan State have been wrongfully labeled as underrated. This isn't the first season of such assessments and likely in large part due to how the Spartans lack in the style points category. After struggling offensively in week 1 with Furman, much of SpartanNation was left scratching their heads in confusion facing early frustration entering a BYE week during week 2 prior to their highly anticipated bout with Notre Dame. If it wasn't clear enough after judging by the resulting 36-28 final in South Bend, Mich St. felt disrespected by not only being chosen over by a large majority but yet still somewhat standing in the shadows as those of their opponents in their conference and division.
Even as the defending conference champion, one may ask is there anything MSU can do to separate themselves? Quite honestly and as crazy as it sounds, it may be best for MSU to continue being the 'hunter', not wanting to imply any sense of urgency from the 'often overlooked' category viewed as the program that is often not given the credit it deserves. This is the exact position Sparty wants, loves and craves being in. They have a way of embracing their positioning and perception via the media, loving to play the underdog role. Known as 1 of the more balanced teams (on both sides of the ball), it's difficult to imagine questioning the opposition's preparation (or lack thereof), which mind you cannot be the go-to for every MSU victory.
The consistency is exactly why it's so easy to fall in love with what MSU brings to the table... a coach's coach, tough mentality, grit & grime style of play filled with physicality and a will to win but never ever give up on plays/possessions. Most notably, you won't outwork Michigan State and have a pretty good idea as to what it is that you're going to get. Credit their winning success after victories in the Rose Bowl, Outback Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and Cotton Bowl including 3 divisional championships, 2 conference championships and an appearance to the College Football Playoff under 9-year, 2x B1G COY - Head Coach Mark Dantonio. Same token, with or without Junior LB Jon Reschke who recorded an INT and a total of 8 total tackles, the Spartans much do a much better job of closing games out and finishing strong. That was one of very few weak points over the weekend after leading 36-7 entering quarter 4.
This is not the time for the Spartan faithful to give the 'hey, a win is a win' speech. Instead, this is the time to be delivering the 'I don't like my wins like that' speech. If Mich St is viewing their win vs. the Fighting Irish as anything less than 'we'll take the win but it's still unsatisfactory', they're creating a recipe of disastrous disappointment and failure for themselves. Keeping the foot on the gas moving forward is likely the elephant in the room and only subject that matters around campus as to what Dantonio is preaching to his kids all week before welcoming (11) nationally-ranked Wisconsin whom loves playing underdog and especially on the road. They too embrace and favor the physical style of pigskin on the gridiron.
Wisky's pesky Badgers pounced their first top-10 ranked team in LSU during week 1 at Lambeau Field so needless to say, they're not scared by any stretch of the imagination. This is a game that could easily slip away from MSU's hands if still on their emotional high from a week ago but there shouldn't be nearly as much to worry about if they contain composure as usual and play up to the competition. This will be an extremely ugly game. Keep writing of Sparty. Projection: MSU-16, Wisky-13